Whilst doing bits and bobs of research this past week, Ally directed me to a brilliant document, compiled by a man named Thomas Tongue in the 1920s, who, at the age of 74 recalled from memory some truly fantastic anecdotes about the men who lived in Styal village, that I had to share with you all. Hopefully they’ll bring a smile to your face!
“John Brown, gamekeeper, lived at the Scotts. Old Mrs Scott (Frank’s wife) could swear fluently and forcefully. One day she had made a big potato pie to last her folks two dinners, along with other things. Her folks had their dinner and returned to work. She lay down in the parlour for a nap prior to ‘siding up’.
Brown and two or three of the Gregs, after shooting all afternoon, getting hungry as hunters, called at Scott’s on their way to Norcliffe, found Mrs Scott asleep, ate the remaining half of the potato pie and all the other food on the table and then took their seats on a bench outside the front door, to wait results. Mrs Scott woke up and on missing the food ‘swore like a trooper’, rushed to the front door where she found the thieves laughing, whereupon she was profuse in her excuses, but she had given them a fine sample of what she could do in the line of cursory remarks.”
“George Shaw, elderly, bald, farm labourer, not married, a character, always good natured, illiterate, with education would have made his mark, addicted to drink. One Sunday morning boys found him lying on the pavement in the Horse Lane, sleeping off his Saturday night drink. As George awoke and sat up, John Waterworth and Thomas Hewitt (two leading Methodists) arrived. John Waterworth said, in the style all his own “George my lad, George my lad, whatever will become of thee?” Thomas Hewitt in his austere style said “George, the devil will get you.”
To the entertainment of the boys George replied “An’ suppose he does. I never did the devil any harm and he won’t do me any harm; it’s such folks as you, that are always backbitin’ him, that he’ll turn over with his fork for further roastin’. The two Methodists left and the boys helped George to his feet and started him towards his sister’s house in the village.”
“William Sumner, old and past work, formerly ‘cut-looker’ at the mill had sons Edwin (coal retailer), Joseph, (had peculiar movement of one ankle and foot and therefore nicknamed ‘swipper’ after the loose end of a flail), William (coach man of Cr. Thomas Clarke, Wilmslow) and Herbert, also several daughters. He lived at Farm Fold in the end house of four, just across from the Methodist chapel.
His second wife Sarah (much younger than he was) was a good-natured but excitable woman with a loud voice. She wore ‘for best’ a capacious bonnet, of the style then known as ‘cottage’, black satin outside lined with white satin. One Sunday as the congregation left the Methodist chapel, they were very startled by loud exclamations from Sarah Sumner inside her own house. Some of them went to the door to inquire what was the matter and were tearfully told by Sarah “A’ar owd cat has gone and kittled in my best bonnet!”
It just goes to show that even in the quiet village of Styal, life was certainly never dull!